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Iowa Officials Seek Support for Centralized County EMS

MAQUOKETA, Iowa - A centralized emergency medical service could ease the workload for Jackson County volunteers and streamline the state certification process, according to a pair of county officials.

And at a county supervisors meeting last month, the duo suggested a county-run system would lessen the odds of the local ambulance service becoming privatized.

Paramedic Ryan Conley and Jackson County Emergency Management Coordinator Lyn Medinger will host an informational meeting at 7 p.m. July 30 at the Andrew High School gymnasium. Both hope to drum up support for the creation of a Jackson County EMS Association, which would unite the various emergency services under one administrative entity.

"We want every volunteer agency that is covered by Jackson County Ambulance Service to have the same protocols, the same medical director," Conley said.

Currently, the disparate volunteer fire departments that protect local communities each handle ongoing education and reporting. But evolving state standards, which have grown increasingly intense and demanding, make it difficult to stay certified, Conley said.

Under Conley and Medinger's proposal, a "central unit" would handle much of the minutia for which volunteers just don't have time.

"That's a fairly taxing endeavor for most volunteers," Conley said. "You've got your full-time job, your family and you volunteer, and you're still going through the same administrative process as paid (personnel)."

How the EMS service would be set up would need to be discussed by an advisory board, Medinger said.

"Once we put an advisory board together and move forward, we're going to take baby steps and see what happens," he said.

Medinger noted that the creation of such an agency is in line with state EMS standards and likely would increase the county's odds of state grant funding.

"We're going to put some information out there," Medinger said. "We're going to let people digest it."

During a meeting with county supervisors in early May, Medinger and Conley suggested that Jackson County Regional Health Center in Maquoketa could bring in an outside ambulance operator if the county does not take control of the service.

Both Medinger and Conley declined further comment on the issue when contacted by TH Media last week.

Curt Coleman, administrator of Jackson County Regional Health Center, told TH Media that his hospital's board of trustees haven't discussed doing anything different with the local ambulance service. He said the hospital has not been asked to participate in any discussions related to a county EMS service.



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